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Tuesday round-up

Yesterday the Court released its first signed opinion of the October Term. In Abbott v. United States and Gould v. United States, the unanimous Court (with Justice Kagan recused) held that Congress, in a 1998 revision to federal gun laws, did indeed intend to impose an additional five-year sentence on defendants who use or carry a gun during a drug crime or a crime of violence.  As the New York Times reports, Justice Ginsburg’s opinion for the Court rejected the defendants’ position, explaining that it “could result in ‘sentencing anomalies,’ including the possibility that ‘the worst offenders would often secure the shortest sentences.’” Courthouse News Service, Washington Post, and JURIST also have coverage of the opinion.   More generally, Lyle Denniston of this blog notes that yesterday was “a day for criminal law,” between the opinion in Abbott/Gould and Court’s decision to grant certiorari in Fowler v. United States  and Tolentino v. New York .  JURIST and Courthouse News Service each have an overview of both cases, while Crime and Consequences Blog focuses on Fowler.

The Court is in recess for the rest of this week, but coverage of the Court continues. recaps last week’s public debate between Justices Breyer and Scalia (which James also covered yesterday ). And both Adam Liptak of the New York Times and Joan Biskupic of USA Today focus on the Court’s newest Justice, Elena Kagan.   Biskupic observes that Justice Kagan has shown that she “can work her way easily into the Q-and-A and cut to the heart of an issue,” asking questions “focused on the legal issue yet often with a practical twist,” while Liptak describes how Justice Kagan’s recusals have revealed the Court’s “sometimes rigorous, sometimes idiosyncratic, and often quite mysterious recusal practices.” Finally, Mike Tolson of the Houston Chronicle sat down with former Justice Stevens to chat about diversity on the Court, judicial activism, and whether the Constitution is a living document.


  • John Elwood of the Volokh Conspiracy looks at cases the Court may have relisted.
  • At FindLaw, Michael Dorf analyzes AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, in which the Court is considering contractual rights to bring class action lawsuits.
  • The Blog of Legal Times reviews what it calls the “sequel” to District of Columbia v. Heller, a 2008 Supreme Court decision that struck down D.C.’s handgun ban.
  • Several news organizations reported that Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, would step down from her role at the helm of Liberty Central. The New York Times and Nina Totenberg of NPR, among others, have coverage.

Recommended Citation: Nabiha Syed, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 16, 2010, 9:27 AM),